Parvovirus is DEADLY – Don’t risk home treatment

Parvovirus is a hardy virus that can live in the environment for long periods of time. "Parvo," as it is commonly known, is not only spread by direct contact through vomit and feces but can also be carried on our hands, clothing, on bowls, bedding, and can live in the environment for months.

Parvo causes severe damage to the intestines, causing vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, secondary bacterial infections, and death.  Although Parvo is classically associated with bloody diarrhea, it is very important to note that the most common and earliest signs of Parvovirus infection are lethargy and decreased appetite.  In early stages, owners will report that the puppy has stopped playing, has less energy, and refuses to eat or eats very little. 

Next, the puppy will begin vomiting, due to the severe damage that occurs in the intestines. This vomiting is usually unstoppable without prescription medications. Most puppies are unable to keep any food or water down once vomiting begins. It is important not to try to force oral food or liquids, as this usually leads to increased irritation and MORE vomiting.  Parvovirus vomiting quickly leads to dehydration, and dehydration can be deadly. 

Puppies and dogs should never receive human pain medications such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, aspirin, raw eggs, garlic, bleach, or any other human medications or “remedies” that might be ill-advised by the internet or by a well-meaning friend.  Many owners have experienced treating mild gastrointestinal illness assuming that it is Parvo, however, attempting to treat a true Parvovirus case at home significantly increases length of the disease course and chances of death.

Later, severe watery and often bloody diarrhea sets in as the destroyed intestinal tissue sloughs off.  This contributes further to dehydration, and is the gateway for dangerous bacterial infections to enter the bloodstream.

Treatment for Parvo should be aggressive and initiated by a veterinarian as soon as symptoms develop.  Once puppies reach the later stages of the disease, the odds of survival decrease dramatically.  Once diagnosed by a simple fecal test, puppies should be hospitalized and treated with:

1)      IV fluids to correct dehydration and support hydration while puppy is unable to take oral fluids

2)      Injectable anti-nausea medications

3)      Gastrointestinal protectants

4)      IV antibiotics for secondary infections

5)      Appropriate nutrition once vomiting is controlled

With aggressive and early treatment, 9 out of 10 dogs are able to make a full recovery.

Please note that the best treatment for Parvovirus is PREVENTION by thorough vaccination. Puppies should receive canine combination vaccines from a veterinarian beginning between 6 and 8 weeks of age and must be boostered every 3 to 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age or older.

Our veterinarians are experienced and effective at treating Canine Parvovirus and other serious conditions. If your puppy is ill and at risk for Parvovirus, let our experienced team treat your puppy with all of the current recommended treatments. It may make the difference in saving your puppy’s life.

Let’s all be proactive and work together to decrease illnesses and death this “Parvo Season”  If you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Advanced Veterinary Care, please call us at 575-388-1503 or Visit us on Facebook